Chris Dobbs and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 d
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Working Style's Chris Dobbs and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 d
In a rags to (‘almost’) riches story, Auckland businessman and entrepreneur Chris Dobbs knows style when he sees it.
The founder of high-end tailor and menswear specialists Working Style started selling bespoked shirts door to door 28 years ago, and today the business employs around 50 people and has seven outlets across the country.
For the last eight years he has driven a Mercedes-Benz, and he has experienced first-hand the German marque’s models evolving during that time.
“I grew up loving and wanting to own a Mercedes-Benz,” he says.
“The same values of absolute precision engineering and luxury they offered then are still available today.”
But in the last decade he has seen the design elements become more prominent in the company’s vehicles.
“In the last decade I think there has been a real enhancement in terms of their design sensibilities.”
This was particularly obvious in the new Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 d SUV, just launched in New Zealand.
“In the GLC the dashboard and the central console is a work of art in terms of the angles and how they work for the driver and passengers,” he says.
“The legend of Mercedes has been German engineering but now it is truly German engineering and European design.”
The GLC SUV is fitted with the company’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.
It is powered by a 2.143cc four-cylinder direct-injection, two-stage turbocharged diesel engine, which puts out 150Kw of power, and 500Nm of torque.
The model reaches 100kph in just 7.6 seconds, and has a combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.7 litres/100km.
With the nine-speed 9G-TRONIC gearbox, ECO start/stop system, the GLC 250 d also has a 4MATIC permanent all-wheel system. The model sits on 20-inch AMG 5-Twin spoke wheels.
“I love the diesel engines – I have become addicted to diesels because of the low-down torque for towing,” he says.
The Working Style director has driven two Mercedes-Benz models during the brand's partnership, including the ML and new GLE models.
He chose the diesel SUVs because he owns a 7.5-metre RIB, housed at the Auckland Outdoor Boating Club in Tamaki Drive.
“It tows my boat, which is approximately 2-tonnes, beautifully,” he says.
The diesel models are also economical to run.
“It amazes me that I only go the service station once a month – or I can tow my boat two and a half hours north and still have half a tank of gas,” he says.
Chris' family, including wife Penny, children Imogen (18), Ted (14) and Amelia (11) and the family dog travel north to their bach at Matapouri, on the Tutukaka Coast in Northland, for summer holidays.
There was plenty of room for the family and the dog to travel north in comfort, with the boat in tow, even over the windy Brynderwyn Hills.
“I really enjoy the power to weight ratio of the vehicle and particularly that it has good low-end torque for towing, and the Brynderwyns are no big deal at all.”
Another reason Chris chose an SUV was its practicality during his working week in Auckland.
He commutes daily from home in Remuera, along Ngapipi Rd and left into Tamaki Drive, to Working Style’s offices in Shortland St in Auckland's CBD.
“For work it means that loading stock, gear and whatever I am dealing with, there is plenty room,” he says.
“It is not too big so it is easy with city parking and negotiating parking buildings.”
Chris has watched as the quality of features such as the reversing cameras, the sensors around the vehicles, blind spot assist and parking assist have improved as technology has advanced.
He says Working Style was lucky to have a business alignment with Mercedes-Benz, which this year celebrated its second year as New Zealand Fashion Week Elite Partner.
Mercedes-Benz has supported fashion events in more than 50 countries.
Chris and his business partners started Working Style in Auckland in 1987, as a door-to-door shirt-making operation.
“I used to wander around Auckland businesses hawking our wares,” he says.
“We started from humble beginnings and now we employ around 50 people, have seven stores nationwide, and have products ranging from sunglasses to shoes, in addition to the made-to-measure tailoring.”
Working Style was a quintessential New Zealand company, and had survived through the many ebbs and flows of the economy during the last 28 years.
“We have always had a real focus on our customers – we believe that it is all about retention of customers and it is all about having the best employees,” he says.,
“So we have had a focus on having the best front of house people and staff in general, and have shared the profits with that group of people.
Even after almost three decades in the business he was still passionate about the firm’s new products, just as he was about the vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz.
“Like Mercedes-Benz, Working Style is good at getting the design right and making sure that the design works for our customers."
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d, pictured in Obsidian Black Metallic, is one of three GLC models available here. The recommended retail price of the model featured, excluding on-road costs, is $107,860. The starting price for the GLC range is $89,900 MRRP.